PART III The bottomless bottom line and salt and sugar startling facts
In Part I you got an overview of the problem of our addiction to salt, sugar, and fat. In Part II, you heard about taste and the huge role it plays in how the food processing industry targets you. In Part III, hear more about how the food processing industry pads its bottom line with salt and sugar.
The bottom line is and always will be about money—whether it is in reducing production costs or increasing revenue through ‘new’ products. Money will be thrown at marketing in an effort to get you, the consumer, to buy a food ‘product’ that you do not need.
And what about salt? Cooking from scratch was already in deep decline by 1991. So what happened? People began to consume more salt via the processed foods they were eating—they just were not cooking any more from scratch. As the chapter title says, ‘People love salt.” In fact, they crave salt. The government’s maximum allowance is 2,300 milligrams. And in 2010, that figure was lowered for anyone 51 or older, blacks, and anyone with diabetes, hypertension, or chronic kidney disease. For those groups, the sodium intake needs to be below 1,500 milligrams (less than a teaspoon) a day. Having tracked sodium for the past week, I can tell you that it is very hard to stay below 1500 mg.
Once again, though, given how people are attracted toward labels such as “organic,” they forget that organic does not mean low salt. Just look at the nutrition labels on cans of “organic” soup. Some frozen dinners contain enough sodium to cover two days’ worth, and some even half a week. Many products at Trader Joe’s contain well over 1,000 mg per serving! There is no legally defined definition for “lite” either.
As much as scientists have studied sodium, they are still learning about the mysteries of salt that cause people to eat massive quantities of it. Perhaps the most shocking statement that Mr. Moss says is that the “manufacturers of processed foods have been creating a desire for salt where none existed before.” Truer words were never spoken.
As for sugar, and this weight watcher did not know this: Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets (and my body must have millions of miles of wiring in it!) Forget the myth that it is the tip of your tongue that carries the sweetness buds. The whole mouth is craving for sweetness. The mouth has 10 thousand taste buds, and there is a receptor for sweetness in every single one of them, with each hooked up to your brain’s pleasure zones.
Moss tells us that the industry “has learned that it can pull off a string of manufacturing miracles” to get you hooked on sugar. And just how successful are the manufacturers in pulling us in? Try to the tune of 70 pounds of sugar per person per year. Visualize those 5-lb. bags of sugar in your grocery store, and then count off 14 and a little bit of the fifteenth package. THAT is how much sugar YOU are consuming each year.
We know that obesity starts at a very young age—children are hooked on all the heavily sweetened cereals when they are barely one year old. This writer has seen mothers giving their young kids soda. Then you look at the mothers—they are, in many cases, obese themselves. The family that eats sweets together gets fat together, too.
In the final part, you will hear about the ‘losing battle,’ and not just as it relates to the consumer.
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